A rap messiah, a glam god, caveman queens and a dead president: If you’re looking for music’s class of 2013, look no further. Here are my favourite albums of the year:
10. Any of these 50 runnersup (in alphabetical order):
Arctic Monkeys, AM; Joseph Arthur, Ballad of Boogie Christ; Atoms for Peace, AMOK; Ebony Bones, Behold, A Pale Horse; Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You; Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away; Chance the Rapper, Acid Rap; Elvis Costello & The Roots, Wise Up Ghost; Daft Punk, Random Access Memories; Deafheaven, Sunbather; Death Grips, Government Plates; Drake, Nothing Was the Same; Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP 2; Fall Out Boy, Save Rock and Roll; Sky Ferreira, Night Time, My Time; FIDLAR, FIDLAR; Flaming Lips, Terror; Ghostface Killah, 12 Reasons to Die; Patty Griffin, American Kid; Haim, Days Are Gone; Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Old Yellow Moon; Ryan Hemsworth, Guilt Trips; James Hunter Six, Minute by Minute; Jason Isbell, Southeastern; The Knife, Shaking the Habitual; Lorde, Pure Heroine; Johnny Marr, The Messenger; Mavericks, In Time; M.I.A., Matangi; Moby, Innocents; Mudhoney, Vanishing Point; My Bloody Valentine, MBV; National, Trouble Will Find Me; Nine Inch Nails, Hesitation Marks; Paramore, Paramore; Parquet Courts, Light Up Gold; Prefab Sprout, Crimson/Red; Primal Scream, More Light; Quasi, Mole City; Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels; Savages, Silence Yourself; Omar Souleyman, Wenu Wenu; Mavis Staples, One True Vine; Suede, Bloodsports; Strypes, Snapshot; Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience; Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City; J Roddy Walston & The Business, Essential Tremors; Weeknd, Kiss Land; Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mosquito.
9. Cowboy Junkies
The Kennedy Suite
We’re through the looking glass, people. The Junkies conspire with a who’s who of Canadian indie music to transform the JFK assassination into an audacious roots-rock opera.
8. Two Cow Garage
Death of the Self Preservation Society
These underappreciated Ohio heartland punks have always been good. But with their sixth set of rugged roots-rock, ragged vocals and archly literate lyrics, they’ve achieved greatness.
7. Danny Brown
Get ’em hooked for free, then make ’em pay. Detroit rapper Brown’s first official outing teams his nasal yelp and demented brilliance with inspired beats, production and guest spots.
6. Queens of the Stone Age
It’s about time. And about time. After six long years, Josh Homme returns older, wiser and armed with a seductively murky fusion of robo-rock muscle and creepy post-glam artiness.
Queen Bey sneaks in under the wire with her surprise fifth album — and raises the bar with this marriage of autobiographical revelations and crazy-sexy come-ons set to experimental electronica.
4. David Bowie
The Next Day
Don’t call it a comeback. Call it THE comeback. The welcome return of the thin white duke introduces the latest evolutionary stage of music’s greatest chameleon.
3. Arcade Fire
The Montreal indie-gods get their groove on with a sprawling, gloriously messy double-album of joyful rebellion and rebirth that defies, confounds and exceeds expectations.
I Hate Music
“I hate music; what is it worth?” lament Superchunk on their grief-stricken 10th disc. Cathartic indie-rock anthems, punk outbursts and power-pop singalongs provide the life-affirming answer.
1. Kanye West
Jesus saves. Yeezus raves — about racism, sex and croissants — over abrasive, starkly produced synths on his most outraged and outrageous album yet (and that’s saying something).